She caught me with the knife when I was sixteen, maybe seventeen.
I don't know what hurt worse: the self-inflicted gashes from a serrated pocket knife across my upper right thigh or my mother's face.
It definitely wasn't the wounds. It was her expression, I'm sure of it.
The wounds bled the emotional pain with its crimson result. The blood and life-long scarring are just consequences of relief.
Her face, long and mouth wide, eyes beading with tears.
I couldn't tell if she was afraid to approach, thinking I might try to end my life or afraid I might hurt her more than she already was.
She stood there, in shock for a moment.
I hate that I remember this. For the longest time after she passed, I only remembered the good things. Like this time a year or two prior when we had the windows open in the house and Mom was blasting Christmas music. Her favorite.
She was singing a bit off-key to an Elvis Presley Hawaiian-inspired Holiday classic and sorting her abundant collection of ornaments.
The tree was up, leaning slightly in the back corner of the sun room. The glass block wall always made me giggle, with the artificial fir propped before it. It seemed so off to me. I guess not as odd-seeming as the Hawaiian-inspired Christmas music—it worked together.
She was happy. It was her favorite time of year. The windows were open and the cool Florida winter slipped in through the tiny screen holes lining each window of our fifties-built beach house.
I love those memories.
But one day, I unlocked the storage boxes up in my mind's dusty attic and all the shit I locked away resurfaced in random order.
I no longer needed sadistic television to haunt my thoughts. I have my unlocked memories to keep me tossing and turning at night instead.
I don't quite remember how she got the knife now, but she had it. She'd dropped to her knees beside me and called for my dad, voice breaking around tears.
Great, I thought. Then came my gushing. I knew it was coming. It always does.
My dad came in and I just remember him yelling and huffing out. He returned with a wet washcloth for the blood, but that's about all I remember of him in that moment.
I swore I'd locked the door, but that lock was funny. I remember having dreams about that door—everyone walking in on me, even in my most private moments.
You had to play around with it to make sure it locked properly, otherwise someone could just push it open.
I remember my dad taking my bedroom door off, because, you know, that's how you fix a teenaged girl with mental problems—you remove her only source of privacy, of security.
My memory is spotty for everything else, but Mom's face was so clear, so present.
I miss her face. Not the memory face, the real one.
The memory face is never the same. It's healthy Mom, it's cancer-ridden Mom—it's inconsistent.
It's been almost twelve years since she passed, and the fissure in my heart hasn't yet healed fully. I'm not sure it ever will.
I see young girls with their mothers at the local coffee house and the reality hits that she missed everything. She missed her daughter getting married and her three beautiful grandchildren. She missed her son's wedding and birth of his first child.
She missed all the good things.
She was there for the knife, though. I guess that has to count for something.
He didn't sign up for this, but he's still here.
I've got nothing of value today. Only anger.
What could it be?
I didn’t prepare for it.
I think I like not knowing.
What do I want to do with this?
Hmm… Good question.
It had just started to rain and the dog was whining at the back sliding glass door.
I don't want to get my hopes too high, but it's something to look forward to.
"What do you want it to be?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you act like I haven't done anything over the last three years. Three years..."
So much stuff. What's the goddamned point?
Time seems to slip away faster now.
If only I could take them with me.
'How's your business going?'
'Fine.' I hate it.
If only he knew her, then he'd understand.
'I wouldn't do it again, if that's what you mean,' I said, pulling my MacBook Pro closer to me atop the long work table in the mall.
What was she thinking?
They always end up letting you down.
I like being flawed. It gives me something to write about.
I let my kids examine my naked body yesterday.
There's no winning with blame.
Every time I think I'm getting better at this whole life thing, I do something wrong and set it back.
It was cold that day. Odd for Florida.
I gave twenty dollars to a woman on the side of the road today.
I like getting older.
There's something about with age and experience comes wisdom that's exhilarating.
The bad thing about family is you can never escape the past.
They remember everything.
I'll see this one through, I tell myself. I'll finish it.
After this, I'll put it to bed. After this, I'll move forward.
I'm the one who makes the show happen.
I was supposed to be an artist.
She asked me.
On her deathbed, she told me.
Something I learned as a visual artist and writer is that some of the best healing comes from expression.
There's something surreal about standing in front of a crowd of strangers—writers who all want the same thing.